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Whether you are an early-stage start-up or a growing business, funds are critical to mobilize your vision. After taking care of the business model - which is validated in terms of product, market, customer dynamics and financials - one has to best conceptualize the business into what investors and coaches call a “pitch deck.”
Raising money from investors at any stage requires a great pitch, which can be challenging to master. To seal a successful deal, an entrepreneur needs to be at his best to deliver a world-class pitch, which consists of a great story, well-crafted vision and clear metrics.
Having worked with notable entrepreneurs’ in the region, a distinct feature of a successful pitch is the ability to sell, sell and sell. However, at certain times, this can create obscurity into key pointers that are essential to create a buzz. I believe the following cues will assist you in delivering a pitch that will be beneficial for you, your business and potential investors:
Sell your story
Now, to best catch attention, you want to capture the audience right at the start. The first 3 minutes largely test the audience’s attention span. The next 4, assuming that an ideal pitch lasts for 7 minutes, cater for the interest that you initially built. To do that, you want to start with a story that best describes your business or an experience that led you to implement the business idea.
Describe the problem and intended solution
You decided to pursue the business because of identifying a gap in the market or your competitors offering. Let the audience know. Explain WHAT you will offer, to WHOM, WHY and at WHAT cost. This is the heart of your presentation – your business proposition. Don’t forget to explain your competition and state how different you compare.
How are you connecting with your target market?
Describe your marketing plan. Break it down into actionable items with respective milestones. It is advisable to show a 6-month roll out plan on how you intend to achieve visibility and convert prospects into sales (if not yet).
Most entrepreneurs convey information through text. This not only leads to a boring and lengthy presentation but one the entrepreneur reads from! A big no! Instead, include visuals, video clips and / or animations to retain the audience’s attention. This creates an interesting perspective of understanding your business model. If your solution is web-based, conduct a demo.
Will you remain relevant in the coming years?
An investor will consider a medium or long-term investment. If your current proposition presents an opportunity of a sizeable and profitable market, the question you then need to answer is – how will your product remain relevant in the next two to three years? Will you innovate or collaborate? Your business should be able to describe the vision of the long-term market. Be forward thinking to remain relevant.
Is your business making money?
In case you are an early stage start up or have recently piloted your business idea, state your numbers. Clearly state your acquisition process, cost of acquisition, number of customers, buying behavior and revenue generated – the most critical. It doesn't matter how big or small the numbers may be because having some form of traction builds investor confidence.
Are you bold enough to state what can kill your business? For example, change in technology or new government policy? Why do this? It assures the investor you have thought your business model comprehensively with a dose of optimism merged with risk mitigation.
Nabeel Hassanali is an entrepreneur, management consultant and a business coach (www.nabeelh.com)